This is the first in a series of polls of the blog. I’m interested in ‘what Stoicism means to you.’ Please aim for a 70% compatibility, if one of these is “pretty close” to your view, please don’t use the OTHER option.
You can now submit questions via #CuriousCat , if you are so inclined.
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“I shall therefore comply with your demand, and shall divide philosophy into parts, but not into scraps. For it is useful that philosophy should be divided, but not chopped into bits.”
I foresee some umbrage to be taken with some moderns who are ready to toss out even the learning of Stoic physics. As a gestalt system, it seems self-evident to me that one would learn the whole thing, even if one later decided parts were incorrect. Some moderns do not take this stance, however, and see no use in learning something which science disagrees with.
“Certain persons have defined wisdom as the knowledge of things divine and things human.”
A concise definition, to be sure. Yet I’m not sure it’s overly helpful at first glance. Upon a more in depth reading, we can see it reflected in the motto, “Live in accordance with the nature of things,” and with a hearty dose of Stoic teachings, we have something to work with, I think.
Certain of our school, however, although philosophy meant to them “the study of virtue,” and though virtue was the object sought and philosophy the seeker, have maintained nevertheless that the two cannot be sundered. For philosophy cannot exist without virtue, nor virtue without philosophy.
This seems to have some more meat on it, for the newcomer. I look forward to the rest of the discussion, now that we have some definitions to share and upon which to build the rest.
Depending on which sections of the Stoic-internet you frequent, you may have a range of ideas about Stoicism and religion.
In some, there is the ahistorical idea that the Stoics were closet atheists, in others theists of various stripes, maybe pantheists, deists, or panentheists.
I’m interested in Stoic theology, a decidedly minority position on the internet today. And this got shared in one of the groups the other day, and I thought I’d pass it along.
It’s a Master’s thesis on Stoicism as a religion. Dangerous waters indeed, no?
“How long, then, will you delay to demand of yourself the noblest improvements, and in no instance to transgress the judgments of reason? You have received the philosophic principles with which you ought to be conversant; and you have been conversant with them. For what other master, then, do you wait as an excuse for this delay in self-reformation? You are no longer a boy, but a grown man. If, therefore, you will be negligent and slothful, and always add procrastination to procrastination, purpose to purpose, and fix day after day in which you will attend to yourself, you will insensibly continue to accomplish nothing, and, living and dying, remain of vulgar mind. This instant, then, think yourself worthy of living as a man grown up and a proficient. Let whatever appears to be the best, be to you an inviolable law. And if any instance of pain or pleasure, glory or disgrace, be set before you, remember that now is the combat, now the Olympiad comes on, nor can it be put off; and that by one failure and defeat honor may be lost – or won. Thus Socrates became perfect, improving himself by everything, following reason alone. And though you are not yet a Socrates, you ought, however, to live as one seeking to be a Socrates.”
— Epictetus, Enchirdion 51.